Thursday, December 31, 2009

State of the Family 2009

We've had quite a year.

One of us lost a helmet, gained a rounder head, learned to walk, got a mouthful of teeth, started to say words, and learned to keep a hairbow on.

One of us visited both the ER and Urgent Care, learned to write some letters, started to write his name, learned to make extremely symmetrical and surprisingly intricate Lego ships, and discovered a (not surprising) affinity for "the bad guys."

One of us graduated from preschool, started a new career as a student, got bitten at kindergarten, continued to love being a big brother to a baby sister, started reading chapter books, and graduated to a "big" Bible.

Two of us learned to ride a two-wheel bike.

Two of us celebrated 11 years of marriage.

Three of us read some letters from Mom, started sleeping in a little more, and all looked at the camera at the same time for our Christmas card.

One of us almost cried with happiness. (See above.)

Five of us went to the beach with the grands, went to the zoo with an aunt and uncle, and stayed home for Christmas with each other.

All of us welcomed a new baby cousin/niece.

All of us had a birthday.

All in all, 2009 was a pretty good year. We are all currently healthy. We are grateful that Steve has kept his job with all the Wachovia/Wells Fargo goings-on. We are glad that our family dog has made a couple miraculous recoveries and is still camped out on our kitchen floor. We are part of an awesome small group with our church and are growing deeper together through prayer, discussions about some thought-provoking and heart-changing sermons, and a shared love of obsession with "The Office."

We've been thinking of some individual and family goals for 2010 and will post on that later. For tonight, we'll discuss those goals together, eat some crab legs and mac and cheese (not together), make smores, watch "The Incredibles," and say a fond farewell to 2009.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Twinkle Toes

My favorite Christmas present?
Why, my new shoes, of course!

Oooooh...the sparkles make them extra-sophisticated!

I am one classy lady.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Sprinkling reindeer food in the front yard...

Do you hear sleigh bells?

A little reminder never hurts!

Neither does a little sugar.

It Must Be Christmas!

One of my (many) mottoes is "It's Not a Holiday Until Someone Throws Up." No current stomach bugs making the rounds here, but both Libby (coughing so hard) and Andrew (migraine) have already obligingly proved this motto true -- just in time for Christmas Eve.

With each year that passes, I am slowly adding to my list of holiday axioms. Of course, these do not ALL happen EVERY Christmas, but usually we can count on one or two to make the season a little more festive.

It's Not Christmas Until...someone is running a fever.

It's Not Christmas Until...someone has passed that fever to a sibling or two.

It's Not Christmas Until...someone (or a couple someones) is on antibiotics.

It's Not Christmas Until...the pediatrician takes pity on me and gives me a "just in case" prescription for the lone holdout kid not currently on antibiotics.

It's Not Christmas Until (new for 2009!)...I tell said (male) pediatrician "I love you" in a fit of extreme gratitude for said prescription because I also know that...

It's Not Christmas Until...we are sitting in an ER waiting room -- usually around midnight -- for an issue that on any other day of the year could be handled with a routine office visit.

It's Not Christmas Until...there is a veterinary crisis. Or two. (They will most likely involve incontinence.)

It's Not Christmas Until...we've fired up the carpet cleaner. Several times.

It's Not Christmas Until...we've given an 80-lb. arthritic, geriatric dog a bath with buckets of hot water in the garage after dark because it is 40 degrees outside and we can't haul her upstairs to a bathtub.

Despite everyone's determination to make this Christmas super-memorable in ways that I trust we will laugh about later, we have not lost our Christmas spirit. Far from it! The wheels may be falling off around here, but that just makes for some fun sledding. Right? Right?

Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care. The reindeer food is ready. Our nativity is set up, and we are looking forward to the reading of Luke 2. The presents are wrapped. The carpets are clean(ish). Cookies are ready for Santa. Surely some of their medications will make the kids see Sugar Plum Fairies tonight.

We are thankful for God's goodwill toward us and for His peace even in our mess this Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all our family and friends!

Coming soon...How to Get Kicked Out of Your Pediatric Practice by Alison Nichols

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aunts Everywhere

We have been aware for quite some time now that our children cannot tell any of their aunts apart. And we have not thought it too big a deal -- I mean, the aunts are all tall and skinny and generally gorgeous and have that "Moon Clone" thing going on -- certainly the kids will get them straightened out in their minds eventually.

However, the situation has become a little more worrisome.

Steve: Hey, Andrew, it's getting close to Christmas! Aunt Lindsay is going to be here. And Aunt Gwen and Aunt Whitney. And Aunt Abby and Uncle Adam are coming. Even Uncle Jordan!

Andrew (excitedly): I haven't seen Uncle Adam in a long time!

Andrew pauses.

Andrew: But, Dad...what about Aunt Kyle?

Four Years Ago...

We thought we knew what to expect.

We knew you would be a boy.
We knew your name would be Adam.
We even knew what day you were scheduled to be born.

All was going as planned; and we were coolly confident, having already welcomed one little boy into our family, that we knew exactly what we were getting into.

But, our funny little Adam, as you like to say every time you burst into a room...


What we didn't expect was YOU. You defied all of our expectations from the moment you arrived on the scene that December evening four years ago, dark and wild-haired and as different from your blond, buttoned-down brother as you could possibly be.

From the start, you were the silliest little clown of a baby with that mischievous twinkle in your eye...

And a determined sense of how you would have things (as illustrated by the Sunday when you steadfastly refused to remove your coat, hat, and sunglasses for the entirety of children's church).

You are forever popping up in the most unexpected places, saying the most outrageously unexpected things...

And, really, after four years, the only thing we now expect is that we never know what to expect!

Happy Birthday, Adam. You are a most unexpected little blessing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Almost 4!

It's been a big week for Adam as we count down to his birthday.

A few days ago, he asked Steve to take the training wheels off his bike. Then he pretty much hopped on it and took off. Yikes. He's still technically three. Anything to keep up with the big kids, I guess!

Displaying his athletic ability...he certainly doesn't get it from his mother.

Since Adam was born so close to Christmas, we decided to hold his party a week before his birthday in the hopes that at least a couple of his friends might be able to come during this busy holiday season. Guess what? Almost everyone we invited was able to come! Adam's entire wished-for "cast of characters" was here. Including Andrew and Adam, we had twelve little people celebrating our almost-4-year-old.

Getting ready to play "Stuff the Stocking"

What you get when you give a bunch of 3- and 4-year-olds chocolate cupcakes...good times!

The birthday boy insisted on taking his Batcave to bed. This is how we found him about 10 minutes later:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Adam's Christmas Letter

Dear Santa,

I want a bendaroos scooter. (Dear Santa, Mommy would like a tip here...what the heck is he talking about? Got any of these in the elves' workshop?)

I want a boat to play with in the water.

I want a Batman dog that I control. (Once again, Santa...a little help? Mommy hasn't seen this commercial.)

I want some new cereal. The Froot Loops. (We're on it.)

I want a chair for Libby. (A little random...we're pretty sure he just got carried away in the spirit of things. But we appreciate his looking out for baby sister.)

And that's all I want.

Wait! Wait! Wait! My new blue car.


A P.S. from Mommy: Santa, if you could bring some super-strength invisible tape, that would be awesome. Adam's mustache keeps falling off.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just Like Poppa Keith

See any similarities? Besides the striking handsomeness of these two fellows, that is?
Yes, Adam made a mustache for himself!

Just like Poppa Keith.

He is also working on his baton twirling skills...with a back scratcher...still wearing the mustache.
How often has Poppa Keith entertained us with a little after-dinner twirling routine? Too many times to count.
And, for the grand finale, the tumbling show. He somersaults just like his grandfather.
Adam and Poppa Keith. The resemblance is uncanny.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jammie Dinner

Tonight was Pajama Party Dinner at our house! Buddies Josh and Caleb came to join in the fun. Superhero jammies, capes, and masks abounded. So did smiley pancakes and bacon.

We got so tickled because Caleb spent almost the entire meal squealing with delight every time something new was placed in front of him: "Oooooh! I love bacon! Oooooo! 'Ocolate chips! I love 'ocolate chips!"

There may have been some syrup. And powdered sugar. And whipped cream.

This may just have to become a family tradition.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Time for Another Heartfelt Letter

My dear sweet, beautiful children,

It's me again. Your know, the one who carried you at great physical cost to myself, the one who has now changed a combined total of six years' worth of your diapers, and who, more recently, has cleaned up a whole lot of the contents of your stomachs while trying to hold my own in. Yada yada yada, sacrifice, Mom loves us, she wants something, I know.

First, I would like to thank you for reading my earlier letter. Clearly you took it to heart. Because I am afraid to type your new collective wake-up time out loud for fear of jinxing it, I will just say here that I can barely wipe the grin off my face most mornings.

Now that I know just how successful these letters can be, I feel it is time for me to write you again with another topic that has been weighing on my heart. I want to start by asking you a question: Do you have any idea how adorable you all are? I mean it. You are all just as cute as Christmas. Just when I think you cannot get any more precious, you wake up the next morning even more so.

My fear, given that I cannot even remember what I fed you (or myself) for breakfast on any given morning, is that someday I might forget how stinking cute you all were. And I would really, really love a picture or two to remind me in my old age.

I have the sweetest pictures of each of you alone.

But I would so love one of all three of the same place...looking at the camera at the same time...and smiling...or even pleasant...heck, I'd take content.

If Daddy and I could be in the picture with all three of you doing the above at the same time, my joy would know no bounds.

If -- I know I'm fantasizing here, but let me have my moment; this is my letter, after all -- all of the above took place and it was near or on a major holiday and we were all wearing coordinating or even just unstained, unrumpled clothing and could, maybe, just maybe, send out the picture in our Christmas card...I might just explode with happiness. I would probably never need to write you another heartfelt letter.

Your Grandma Betsy keeps telling me that one day my favorite pictures of you when you were little will be the goofy ones. The ones where you were all crying. The ones where someone yanked his pants up to his armpits just as the shutter clicked. The ones where someone was trying to pick someone else's nose. The ones where everyone was looking like trolls.

By those standards, I will have lots of favorites.

Libby the Christmas troll
Nothing going right here...
This is at least totally representative of us that summer
A possible submission for Awkward Family Photos
This year's awesome family picture at the tree farm
I'll be honest. It's December, and unless our photographer Beth comes through with a miracle when she returns our family pictures, I have pretty much given up on this year's Christmas card. But hope springs eternal, and 2010 is just about here with a whole new set of holidays and photo opportunities! Kids, let's make this our year. Let's get a family picture that one day your mother can look at and say, "Kind of a boring picture. But see how cute their little smiles were!"


Saturday, November 28, 2009

He Really Can't Tell Any of Them Apart

Upon going upstairs at Grandma Betsy and Poppa Keith's house:

Andrew: Hey, Dad! I found one of the aunts up here!

Steve: Which one?

Andrew: I don't know. Aunt Lindsay, I guess. The one who came to my birthday party...

(It was Aunt Gwen.)

Mom is the short one...but can YOU tell the aunts apart?

Thursday, November 26, 2009


For these sweet little faces...

And these...(including the ear of the body that jumped uninvited into the frame as the shutter clicked)

For a long-overdue visit from Uncle Jordan...

And for this little smile...
We are richly blessed indeed. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Powwow

One little

Two little

Three little Indians!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Birthday That Never Quits

This year Andrew's birthday felt less like a birthday celebration and more like Hanukkah. What with cupcakes at school, a family celebration, and a sleepover for our traditional shared party with Seth, we managed to spread Andrew's birthday festivities out over eight days.

We opted not to do a "big" party this year for Andrew and Seth but instead allowed each of them to invite one friend for a night at a local sports arcade and a sleepover at our house.

The boys had a great time, and our first sleepover party was a success. Lots of pizza, not lots of sleep...about what we expected. No one lost an eye, although Seth came close. That's how you know it was fun.

How poor Miss L spent the party...with bronchitis.

Celebrating our six-year-olds!

Mini-bowling at the sports arcade. The three-year-old baby brother was the champ!

Future NRA members Andrew and Josh. Perhaps we should have selected a Charlton Heston film for the evening's entertainment...

A living room full of worn-out little boys. We were so sure they'd go right to sleep...

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Vocabulary Fit for a Princess

For months now I have been following Libby around, begging her to say "More" at dinnertime or to tell me a cow says "Moo," only to be met with blank stares and the occasional half-hearted elephant gesture (swinging her arm back and forth like an elephant's trunk). Sure, she has been saying "Mama" and "Dada" and "Car" for quite some time now. She has even thrown out an occasional surprise new word -- to much cheering and acclaim -- only to take it back and lock it up in her baby word vault, never to be heard again.

However, over the past two days, Libby's internal talking timer has apparently gone off because she is starting to throw out words left and right!

First it was "SHOES!" No surprise there. Shoes are near and dear to Libby's little baby girlish heart.

Then it was "SAUSAGE!" (Another favorite. I said she was girlish, not dainty.)

Just now she has added "CRACKER" and "UH-OH" to her vocabulary.

Mama. Dada. Car. Shoes. Sausage. Cracker. Uh-oh. Words fit for a princess.

Really, who cares what a cow says?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Olivia...Er, Andrew!

Six years ago tonight, anticipation and exhaustion were running high. After 26 1/2 hours of labor (not that I was counting or anything), Steve and I were eagerly awaiting the appearance of our first baby. We'd been waiting 9 months to find out if we would be welcoming a baby named Andrew or Olivia.

At 8:58 pm, our question was answered. The baby was born, and the doctor said, "Congratulations! You have a baby girl!"

I looked at Steve and said, "We've got our little Olivia!" and I was overwhelmed for the briefest of moments that I had given birth to a baby daughter.


The doctor said, "WAIT! WAIT! It's a BOY! Wow, I've never done that before."

????????? What can I say? I guess you put a 9-pound baby in a 5'2" mom, and stuff gets a little smushed toward the end. But once everything got, ahem, straightened out, it was clear that our firstborn was indeed a boy.

And, as we all know, that little "Olivia" received a name change on the spot and became our sweet Andrew. In the weeks that followed, I kept looking at my little son, whom I immediately loved with all my heart, and thinking, "What on earth would we have done with a little girl?"

Now, as I look at my (gulp) 6-year-old boy brandishing his beloved light sabers, reading The Chronicles of Narnia, fake burping every chance he thinks he can get away with it, making his baby sister laugh like no one else can, and proudly insisting on sleeping without a shirt (just like Daddy), I think, "Oh, Andrew, what on earth would we do with an Olivia? What on earth would we do if you had been anyone but YOU?"

You are our precious little (but not for long) Andrew. You are the Andrew-est of Andrews, and we could not have done with anyone but you! We are so glad God made you YOU...and that He made you ours. Happy Birthday, ANDREW!